Monday 30th October 2017, a day for some when dreams would come true and for others victory would slip from grasp. This was it, the culmination of months of training would come down to just four heats. Four races which would decide the course of history and crown the first ever Dragon World Champions!
The second round of the first ever dedicated team SUP World Champions combined the points from round one meaning it was all to play for going into this morning races. A strong offshore breeze whipped and clawed at the rolling swell beyond the distant breakwater and rested teams assembled ready to wage battle in the turquoise waters of Paddle Barbados, Carlisle Bay.
Despite being knocked out in the first round of Day 1 the mixed team, ‘The Fireballs’ had clearly reset their sights delivering a standout performance in heat number one of the day, which saw two teams advance into the semi-finals. Meanwhile, in heat two it was the Grand Masters who were swamped by a huge set wave that caught them side on at the third and notorious hammer mark and caused for an early and unexpected exit from the competition with teams ‘Dragon Alliance’ and ‘SUPer Women’ advancing.
As eight teams lined up on the beach for the semi-final, the atmosphere was tangible as the winning teams from round one were pitted against those who had proven their superiority in early rounds to advance to this stacked heat of the fastest Dragon teams in the world. Only six teams would advance, and it was a race that would completely reset the bar for Dragon racing on a global level, as all the teams exploded from the start line at an intensity unmatched by any of the previous heat before.
Local team Paddle Barbados left nothing to chance, drawing a line in the sand as they stamped their authority on the fleet securing the first place and their place in the final. No sooner had they crossed the line, the battle for second hit the beach at full force with the REDSUPLadies from New York chased all the way to the line by the Russian Team, ‘Team Pacific’. The wildcards, ‘Team Fireball, who seemed to be cast from a different mould from the day before, came streaking in to claim they’re place in the final, shortly followed by the Crazy Kamals and team Dragon Alliance.
As the midday sun grew hot in the sky and the water turned an unimaginable shade of turquoise, just six teams lined up for one final time in the competitors starting area. Between them and world champion status stood just 8 minutes of unrelenting, arm burning, adrenaline fuelled racing.
As the fleet rounded the first buoy it was team Paddle Barbados who emerged in front, closely followed by the REDSUPLadies and Team Pacific less than half a board length behind. It was a three horse (or should that be Dragon) race as teams dug deep into their energy stores to power themselves forward, ever closer to victory. As all six teams rounded the inside hammer turn and combatted the breaking surf, it was the unrelenting power from Paddle Barbados that saw the team begin to accelerate from the following pack, putting just three board lengths between them and the REDSUPLadies and sprinting through the finish.
See below for the top 10 full results.
After a short break to refuel and take on vital energy, all teams were invited to compete in the infamous Dragon Warrior Sprint. It was to be a final exhibition race in which teams would navigate a complex slalom course before having to over-come a final, gruelling challenge traversing two Red Paddle Co XL boards, guarded by two Dragon Grand Masters ready to take out any unsuspecting Dragon challengers.
As the drums intensified on the beach teams lay passant guardant (still but ready), awaiting their signal to spring, from their face down position, in the sand and begin this final gauntlet. The staggered start saw teams released according to their overall finish position in the World Championships meaning team Paddle Barbados left the beach almost 90 seconds after the first teams. As the teams rounded the final slalom mark they saw their impending fate, between them and the finish stood Red Paddle Co team member George Shillito and Founder John Hibbard, complete with gladiator pugil-sticks. From the carnage that ensured it was the REDSUPLadies that took third, the Fireballs in second and despite all odds, team Paddle Barbados who expertly weaved their way through the teams to claim the victory for a second time!
As the dust settled and teams reflected on the days racing, there was an almost sombre mood as the closing ceremony marked the end of the most incredible three days during which friendships have been forged, memories have been made and the first ever Dragon World Champions have been crowned.
Until next year…
Special thanks to our official partners:
DRAGON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS TOP 10:
6.Fireballs / SUPer Women
10.Puffins / Team Ted
DRAGON WARRIOR SRINT:
GRAND PRIZE WINNERS: